Fourth ranked Delta State concluded its' season with a 38-13 record while Tampa improved to 49-2 and advanced to play Alabama-Huntsville on Saturday at 11 a.m.
“Our guys played hard today,” Delta State head coach Mike Kinnison said. “We just didn’t quite get the hits we needed late in the game.”
The Statesmen gained the early lead with a two-run first inning. Will Robertson and Dex Herrington singled to open the inning with both scoring on a Brent Langston single for a 2-0 lead.
Tampa tied the game with two runs in the third on an RBI single by Orlando Rivera and a Stephen Dezzi double.
Robertson singled to begin the third, stole second and moved to third on a throwing error by the Spartans' catcher. Langston, who had three RBI on the afternoon, scored Robertson with a sac-fly to left field to give DSU a 3-2 lead.
The lead held up until the seventh when UT pushed two runs across. Zach Gawrych was hit by a pitch and scored on a balk after the Statesmen appeared to have Giovanny Alfonzo, who singled, picked off at second. Alfonzo came home on a Connor Obrochta sac-fly to give the Spartans their first lead, 4-3.
Delta State put the tying run in scoring position in the bottom half of the seventh. Jordan Chovanec, who had a stolen base in the fourth to move into second all-time in DSU history with 72, walked and moved to second on a Robertson single before the inning came to a close on a ground out.
In the ninth, Tampa was able to inflate its cushion. Alfonzo singled and scored on a Rivera triple while Rivera crossed home on a Dezzi single up the middle. Dezzi reached third on a Tyler Ding single and scored when Sean O'Brien reached on a fielder's choice to make the score 7-3.
“Tough competition with very little margin for error,” Kinnison said. “I did think our guys played hard today. In the eighth and ninth inning, our pitching didn’t hold up. We gave up a few runs.”
Robertson finished the day 4-for-5 with two runs scored to lead the Statesmen. Kasey Hinton and Herrington followed with two hits while Langston, Pickard and Chovanec each had hits.
David Heintz, 10-0, gave up three runs, two earned, on eight hits with three strikeouts and a walk to earn the win. Kevin McNorton came in the seventh with the tying run aboard and went the final three innings to record his 11th save.
Moody was the pitcher of record for the Statesmen, allowing four runs on six hits with four strikeouts to drop to 9-4. Moody pitched seven innings and threw a 117 pitches with 68 of those going for strikes.
“Jonathan Moody pitched well,” Kinnison said. “He got us deep into the game. I felt like our bullpen didn’t quite hold up. We just didn’t quite get the job done.”
The Statesmen will be losing seniors Hinton, Langston, Carlos Leal, Travis Northern, Taylor Stark, Herrington, Michael Manley, Tyler Dalton, Ricky Velez, Ricky Winters and Chovanec.
Kinnison was very proud of his senior group this season.
“Well, they (the seniors) knew this day would come,” Kinnison said. “I tell them that all the time. When that last pitch, that last at bat of their college career is taken, they had better be able to look back on it with no regrets. I think that’s certainly true. It’s been a great senior group. They held together well. They were fun to coach. It’s been a good team chemistry. I wish I could have given them what they deserved, a championship.”